Choosing the Right Drapery Fabric: Your Ultimate Guide

There is nothing quite as powerful to a room’s decor as seeing a window that’s beautifully hung with drapery fabric. Each type of fabric will create its own unique pleats, folding perfectly across the window and tying the whole decor scheme together. The real challenge lies in choosing the right drapery for the look you are after. 

While you may gaze in awe at a designer look that struts its stuff on the glossy pages of a magazine or scroll past countless images of pure fabric perfection online, these sources rarely reveal the secrets to achieving a great look with drapery fabric. Luckily, this is the spill-all guide to choosing the right drapery fabric for your home and desired look. 

Ready for the secrets to be revealed?

Understanding the Difference Between Curtains and Drapery 

Most people get a very confused look on their faces when asked what the difference is between curtains and drapery. After all, don’t they both cover windows? 

Curtains are usually thinner, more modern, lighter, and less full window treatments. In home decor, curtains are sometimes used to cover a window or hang over blinds. Typically, curtains are sold in sets of two, but single panels are also available. Curtains are easily washed, while drapery fabric is harder to wash at home and may require drycleaning. 

Drapery fabric, on the other hand, is fuller, heavier, and a more traditional and formal window covering that hangs in a fixed manner. The ultimate result of drapery is to create specialized effects like scalloped drapes, tucks, pleats, and waves or folds. Drapery also features black-out and may open and close with a specialized draw at the edge of the drape. 

Making a set of gorgeous drapes for your windows may require the services of a specialized curtain maker who will use hooks, catches, hidden curtain tape, and careful application of guided tensioning wire to create the extravagant look you desire. 

Choosing the Best Drapery Fabric for Unique Folds

In addition to choosing the right specialist to design and make your drapes, you also need to choose the best drapery fabric that is appropriate to the look you are hoping to create. The type of drapery fabric you choose will influence how the drape hangs, what kind of folds you can create, and what it will ultimately look like.

Selecting the correct weight will not only influence the look, but it can also ruin your efforts when you choose the wrong weight. 

With curtains that are too light, you may find they seem to float off the rod, or they may hang poorly, causing the window to appear almost naked. Overly heavy curtains or drapes can result in a visually draining appearance that is too formal and may not go with your other furnishings. 

The folds and pleats you can achieve with drapery fabric are also determined by the texture and fullness of the fabric. 

Folds in Drapery Fabric by Fabric Weight

The weight per square inch of the drapery fabric you choose will determine how it hangs, folds, and tucks. 

Lightweight drapery fabric is essentially like curtaining, and it is used to create soft pleats and folds that create fluidity and movement in the window treatment. Sheers, voiles, and cotton fabrics are ideal to create an airy look that will complement more modern homes. 

Medium weight drapery fabric such as taffeta, silk, and linens are better suited to structured pleats such as pencil pleats, goblet folds, and specialized window scarves. 

Heavier weight drapery fabric like velvet, brocade, and thicker weave polyesters are ideal for a heavily structured look, where blackout lining is often used to darken a room, create solid walls of fabric, and insulate the room from wind and cold. 

Folds in Drapery Fabric by Fabric Texture

The surface texture of the drapery fabric you choose will also influence what pleats or draping styles can be used with that fabric. A heavily textured fabric may not present well with structured pleats like pintucks. However, a medium-textured curtain can create a good solid appearance with mildly structured pleats and folds. 

Sleek or texture-less drapery fabric is ideal for extravagant drapery styles like goblet pleats, double pintucks, and full-length folds or side panels. When you’re not entirely sure about the look you want to create, keep in mind that the best option is a mildly textured or smooth drapery fabric. 

Trying to combine heavy texture with a strong design element may prove too much for any decor theme. 

Folds in Drapery Fabric by Fabric Fullness

How much fabric you have at your disposal will also influence what you can achieve in terms of drapery. If you can only hang drapery fabric that is one and a half times the width of the window, you are limited in how many pintucks or pleats you can create without the fabric being insufficient to cover the window. 

When a window has the option to hang longer or fuller curtains, it creates more opportunities to be creative, tuck and pull, and design unique draperies. Ultimately, it will depend on the type of window treatment hanging system you will be using. 

In a rented space, you may be unable to change the curtain rails for those rods you so desperately want to use for eyelet curtains or pintuck curtains that require a different curtain rail. Working in your limitations will be a challenge if you don’t keep the drapery fabric’s weight, texture, and fullness in mind. 

Drapery Fabric by Curtain Headers

How you will be hanging your drapery will also determine the style you can use. These curtain headers will offer you a particular look that you can achieve.

Taped Curtains or Draperies

When your curtains or drapery fabric has been topped with tape, you have several options. Depending on the curtain weight, you can opt for regular wavy folds or tuck different sections of the tape to achieve a pin-tuck appearance. 

Tab Top Curtains or Draperies

Tab tops are a fun way to hang lightweight or medium-weight curtains and drapes. Tab topped drapery fabric tends to hang in a more natural and fluid manner. To maintain a good balance with lightweight fabric, it may be necessary to use a weighted seam or box the seam for additional fabric weight. 

Choosing the right width or fullness will also influence how the drapery hangs. Thicker drapery fabric will need a one and a half times fullness, while thinner or lighter drapery will need as much as twice the fullness of the window. 

Eyelet Curtains or Draperies

Eyelet curtains often accommodate heavier drapery fabric since the metal rings are more sturdy and can handle heavier fabric better. It is also easier to open and close eyelet drapery as the eyelets slide easily on the metal rod. 

With a thicker and heavier drapery fabric being used, it is better to opt for a curtain that is less than one and a half times the fullness of the window. Measuring correctly is essential for drapery fabric. 

Color—the Final Drapery Fabric Consideration

Having chosen the type of fabric, its weight, and how you will hang it, you need to finally consider the pros and cons of the color fabric you choose. Windows have a life of their own, and each window is exposed to a different heat, light, and moisture content than the other. 

When a window has a lot of UV exposure, the drapery fabric chosen needs to be UV resistant, sturdy enough not to melt (like some polyester blends may do), and fade-resistant too. Should you want a blackout effect, you can always have a thinner drapery fabric lined with a UV-resistant backing to help you thermoregulate your home. 

Final Drapery Fabric Thoughts

Drapery is not everyone’s cup of tea. It requires the correct design elements to help it suit your home and style. Heavier drapery can be high maintenance in terms of cleaning and care. 

The drapery fabric you choose will need to fit the pleats, folds, and tucks you wish to use in creating the lavish look you desire. While it can be difficult to visualize what fabric will hang like based on the sample or a few online pictures, you can always rely on the Kovi Fabrics consultants for sound advice on what drapery fabric will best suit your style.

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